LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent in December, according to labor statistics released Tuesday.
The state’s jobless rate last month was higher than the December 2012 rate of 7.1 percent and the national jobless rate for last month of 6.7 percent, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.
The national unemployment rate was down from the November rate of 7 percent.
“Arkansas’ unemployment rate declined in December, largely the result of a gain in employment and a corresponding increase in the size of the civilian labor force,” said DWS spokeswoman Becky Heflin. “This is the second month in a row that Arkansas’ employment has increased.”
The agency reported that 1.2 million Arkansans were employed in December and 98,500 were unemployed. The civilian labor force grew by 2,600 people in December.
Three major industry sectors reports gains in December, while five reported losses. The largest increase was in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 1,600 jobs, 1,300 of them a result of holiday hiring in retail trade.
Five sectors reported losses. Leisure and hospitality posted the largest decrease, with 2,600 jobs lost, 2,000 of them in food services, a typical seasonal trend. Government employment dropped by 1,300 jobs, with 900 of those in state government and about 500 in local government, mostly because of the holiday break at public schools. Employment in professional and business services declined by 1,300 jobs, 1,000 of them in administrative and support services, which includes seasonal businesses such as travel agencies and landscaping services.